Starting July 19, the State of Missouri and Amtrak will restore the second of two daily round-trip trains on the Amtrak Missouri River Runner line between the Amtrak stations in Kansas City and St. Louis. The announcement was made Wednesday morning that the funding would come from the state and the federal American Rescue Plan Act. This will keep those two round-trip trains running through the end of December.
The service was reduced to one round-trip each day in March 2020 due to declining ridership because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Revenue from the River Runner service was $5.4 million and ridership was 145,725 during the 10-month period from April 1, 2018, through Jan. 31, 2019.
For the same 10-month period, April 1, 2020, to Jan. 31, 2021, the revenue was $1.5 million and ridership was 35,252. MoDOT did note they were comparing last year to 2018-19 revenue and ridership due to the effect Missouri River flooding had on ridership in 2019.
"We appreciate the General Assembly and Gov. Parson providing necessary resources for the service in the state's budget," said Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna. "We will re-evaluate the situation this fall based on the actions at the federal level with the renewal of the federal transportation budget to determine how long we can support the two daily round-trip service."
MoDOT officials said an economic impact study of the Missouri River Runner found the service generates more than $200 million in annual economic impact in Missouri. It also supports more than 1,250 jobs in communities at the stops across the state: Kirkwood, Washington, Hermann, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lee's Summit and Independence, in addition to Kansas City Union Station and St. Louis Gateway Station.
In fiscal year 2021, MoDOT received $8 million in state support for the River Runner service. Amtrak employs 78 people statewide, amounting to approximately $7.5 million in labor income.
This week Amtrak went back to running their long distance trains at full service. This includes the Texas Eagle and Southwest Chief, both of which go through Missouri.
By this weekend, ticketing will be available for both Missouri round-trip train services beginning July 19. Tickets can be purchased on Amtrak.com, Amtrak's mobile apps, by calling 800-USA-RAIL or by visiting the staffed ticket windows at the Amtrak stations in St. Louis and Kansas City.
Customers are encouraged to use the capacity indicator at the time of booking, showing each train's seating availability. This real-time data is available through departure times and, if bookings exceed comfort levels, customers can change their ticket without incurring a fee (a fare difference may apply). Per federal law and Amtrak policy, all customers and employees must wear a face mask or covering that fully covers the entire mouth and nose, fits snugly against the side of the face, and secures under the chin at all times while onboard and in stations.
On a related matter, Jefferson City officials confirmed no decision has been made about the temporary Amtrak station nor any movement on a potential permanent location for the station.
The temporary station has been in operation since the fall of 2019. The station had been housed in the lower floor of the historic Union Hotel, but when that building was found to have structural problems, the state closed its doors. State officials said the hotel would remain closed for the foreseeable future due to lack of funding for repairs.
For now, the temporary station in the parking lot of the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site remains in place after the city received an extension from the Office of Administration to keep it there.